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New MAC code regulation

8th February 2007 Print
Commenting on the new MAC code regulation, Jason Lloyd, head of broadband, said: “As of Wednesday February 14 2007 the MAC (Migration Authorisation Code) Code of Conduct is mandatory for all providers. This means that all providers must adhere to the code’s main principles:

i) If a customer asks for their MAC code the provider they are leaving must issue the customer with a MAC code within five working days upon request, regardless of any dispute and free of charge. The MAC code is free of charge the first time that it is requested, if asked for more than once this may incur a charge.

ii) Once a customer has passed their MAC code to the new provider they are changing to, the new provider must try to switch the customer across to their service within 30 days, informing the customer of the exact date that they will be connected to the new service.

[Once issued, a MAC code lasts 30 days before it becomes out of date and unusable]

iii) If a customer is moving house and finds that in their new home there is an existing tag (marker) on the line from a previous resident, the provider who has the tag on the line must issue a MAC code to the account holder of that phone line so that they can pass the MAC code on to their provider to change the tag on the line.

“The aim of the MAC code scheme is to reduce the number of customer complaints, make it easier to swap provider or move your broadband connection to a new home.

“These rule changes will help many people change providers more easily but it doesn’t cover every possible situation that customers might face, (e.g. LLU to LLU is still a fairly unresolved issue amongst providers), nor does it resolve all the problems associated with getting a broadband service, but it’s an important step in the right direction.

“The introduction of compulsory MAC codes will make providers more accountable to their customers and what they deliver. If a provider offers poor customer service they know that their customers have the freedom to leave whenever they like.

“This freedom of choice is bound to have an impact on customer service from providers. In order to retain their customers they will need to offer much better customer service to prevent them from leaving. I think it’s highly likely that we’ll see more products launched this year with an emphasis on customer service as much as product speed and reliability.

“If we want to see more progress in the industry and benefit to the consumer we need to see greater transparency. Banning minimum contract terms over 12 months, introducing fixed cancellation fees and removing hidden charges are other problems that have not been addressed in the new MAC code regulation.

“A lot of this is also about building consumer trust. The introduction of mandatory MAC codes will help this process but there is a long way to go before consumers will fully trust their broadband provider.”

Top Tips for Changing Broadband Provider:

Tip 1: Be informed – Be better informed about the market by comparing products, use online forums and read customer reviews and share experiences between other broadband customers.

Tip 2: Read the small print – Check your existing contract terms to see if you are free of your contractual obligations or whether your provider has breached its service agreement, as this could help you argue that you should not pay any cancellation fees.

Tip 3: Speak to your existing provider – The best deals on the market are with your existing provider, so it always pays to keep a positive dialogue with them to see what they have to offer first before changing. If you still want to change provider make sure you know the right person or department where you can get your MAC code from. Remain firm, the regulation is on your side and they have to give you a MAC code even if you’re not an existing customer.

Tip 4: Making the change – Once you have received your MAC code pass on the code as soon as possible to your new provider, and get a connection date from them (this is part of the new regulation and they must also change your connection within 30 days from when they have the code).

Be patient and keep a positive dialogue going with your existing provider if you want to maintain a broadband connection before it’s changed to your new provider.

Tip 5: Can’t change won’t change – For many people the process of changing provider may not run smoothly. If you are having problems with your existing provider and wish to complain, tell the provider that you want to take it to their high-level complaints department. If the high-level complaints department cannot resolve the matter you need to know your legal rights. Which? Legal Service is a low cost legal service that can tell you your rights as a consumer

You can also issue a complaint to Ofcom and Otelo – although they will not be able to resolve your case individually they will keep a record of complaints of every provider. If you are just having problems getting a MAC code from your provider you can contact BT Wholesale on 0800 169 0934 who may be able to remove it for you. Clearly this is only available to the account holder of the line and is a last resort. Your other option is to ask BT to switch off your broadband connection entirely and reconnect again with a new provider but this can take weeks without any broadband and is a really extreme way to change provider.